PA Voter ID – Contd.

Well, the Commonwealth Court heard arguments this week on the ACLU’s challenge to the PA Voter ID law. It’s worth reading some of the details about the plaintiffs: particularly about the elderly voters born in rural areas of other states who don’t have birth certificates.

Now remember, we’re not talking about registering new voters. This suit (and the whole issue itself) is all about people who are already legally registered to vote in PA, many of whom HAVE BEEN VOTING LEGALLY FOR YEARS. These people are now being told that in order to continue to exercise their Constitutional right to vote, they have to jump through a few nice big hoops because they don’t drive (and thus have a driver’s license) or have a passport or work for the state. So who doesn’t drive or have a passport or work for the state? The elderly, the poor and the unemployed, that’s who—and what good Republican wants them to decide what goes on in Washington and Harrisburg? Think it’s not about voter suppression? State House leader Mike Turzai was videotaped saying that “The Voter ID Bill will give Pennsylvania to Mitt Romney.”

Now those among us who don’t think the government should be shrunk until it can be drowned in a bathtub and do believe there’s a role for government regulation still want to see a reason for regulation. Like when Wall Street’s machinations crash the economy, say. Or 40,000 people under age 65 die each year because they don’t have health insurance. Got a problem? Maybe we should fix it. Maybe some regulations would help. So what’s the problem for which voter ID is the fix? Well the only problem it fixes is voter impersonation. Guess how many cases of voter impersonation the PA Republican administration claims to have found? That would be none. Zero. That’s what they put in their written response to the lawsuit. So the party that claims to exist solely to rid us of government interference has passed a burdensome, onerous law that may disenfranchise hundreds of thousands and inconvenience up to one million to solve NOTHING. Oh, wait. It’s not burdensome or onerous to the well to do, so I guess it doesn’t count (I’ve seen tons of online comments to the effect “everybody’s got an ID, what’s the big deal”).

Here are the current requirements for obtaining a PA Photo ID card:  Now interestingly, in response to the lawsuit the Republican administration is backpedaling on the requirements. On July 20, Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele announced creation of a “new card” that will fulfill the requirements of the law.

“The new voter photo identification cards are scheduled to be available at PennDOT’s Driver’s License Centers beginning the last week of August. The identification cards can be issued to registered voters who may not have all of the documents necessary to obtain a non-driver’s license photo ID from PennDOT, primarily a birth certificate.

The IDs, which are free, will be issued to voters for a 10-year period and can only be used for voting purposes. For Pennsylvania-born voters, PennDOT will still use the process of confirming birth records electronically with the Pennsylvania Department of Health to issue non-driver’s license photo IDs for voting.

When requesting these IDs, voters will need to affirm they do not possess any other approved identification for voting purposes. They will be asked to provide two proofs of residence, such as a utility bill, along with their date of birth and Social Security number, if the customer has an assigned number. PennDOT will validate the voter registration status with the Department of State while the voter is in the PennDOT office. Upon confirmation of this information, the voter will be issued the voter card before leaving the PennDOT facility.”

I’m not clear as to whether people need to bring the SS card or just provide the number. Either way, this is a clear improvement over the previous requirements. It still means that people who don’t drive, and who may have limited mobility need to take part of a day to get the right to exercise a right they may have done for years. It’s still a barrier, and an unnecessary one.

People Are Legal Fictions

Used to be that corporations were legal fictions and people were real. Now we’ve already established that corporations are people (Mitt told us so specifically). But now it’s also clear that people have become the legal fiction. Mitt claims that his continuing to be listed as CEO, chairman of the board, and sole stockholder of Bain Capital from 1999 (when he “left” the company) to 2002, and being paid an annual 6-figure sum is some sort of legal fiction, some bureaucratic device necessary to keep the lights on and the buyouts continuing while a team of lawyers took the few years necessary to untangle the interlocking web of holding companies so that Mitt’s “retirement” from the company would be in order and his name wouldn’t need to keep being plastered all over the paperwork filed on behalf of the company that he had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with in any shape or form or anything, no, not my job man, I wasn’t there, it must’ve been somebody else. (dang, that’s a long sentence—gotta watch the coffee)

And of course Mitt is insulted, he’s outraged, that Democrats would suggest that he might continue to have had even the tiniest bit of interest in a company he was listed as CEO, chairman and sole owner of. How dare they insinuate that he would dream of paying the slightest attention to what the people running the show at Bain were doing to a company he was listed as “owning 100%” of. No diligent and responsible businessman would ever, you know, make a few calls, exchange a couple emails to see that the great corporate benefactor Bain Capital had decided to start looting pension plans. Heck, that would be like Bob Evans retiring from his sausage company and then caring that the new guys started stuffing the links with sawdust and selling them with his name on the package. What sensible businessman would spend 5 minutes worrying about something like that? No, the best businessman knows when to pull back; “Do whatever you want guys, it’s only my money and reputation. Ha Ha!”

So “CEO, chairman of the board and 100% owner” was just a necessary fiction for Mitt to take off and run the Olympics. What kind of fiction will the US presidency be for Mitt? Maybe we could just skip the presidency phase and let him go straight to running another Olympics. The 2014 Winter Games are in Sochi. Know where that is? Me neither. Sounds like a good place for Mitt.

Free Fire Zone

Fourth of July Fire Sale! Yes, indeed, all the fire you want, and more! Free! The Colorado wildfires have been particularly nasty:

Red Zone: Colorado’s Growing Wildfire Danger | I-News Network.

waldo canyon fire

One of the many untoward consequences involved conservative commentator Michelle Malkin having to listen to government orders to evacuate her Colorado home in one of the danger areas. She seemed, though, to have recovered from the trauma of socialist (or is it fascist?) intervention in time to take the opportunity to reiterate the message that this had nothing to do with that mythical global warming, the climate is just fine thank you, and please pay no attention to the dead, dry trees and the melting asphalt in your street. I’ve been waiting to see Grover Norquist and all the politicians who signed on to drown the government in the bathtub lined up in the streets blockading the firefighters so that they don’t spend any more government money helping homeless people (or really-soon-to-be homeless people). After all, aren’t people free to live wherever they can afford to build (whatever the downstream costs born by the rest of us)? And build they are. According to an analysis of housing records by I-News in the link above, in the past 20 years, a quarter-million people moved into one of Colorado’s red zones, areas at highest risk for the most dangerous wildfires. That means there are now over 1/2 million homes with over 1 million people in the red zones. Just to compound the problem, Colorado is having more wildfires. In the 1960s, Colorado averaged about 460 fires/yr, burning about 8000 acres. In the last 10 years, they’ve averaged about 2500 fires/yr, burning about 100,000 acres. In some areas, the fire season is 2 months longer than it used to be. Why? Warmer. Dryer. Climate change. (ooh, I said a bad word).